Authors: Stephanie Karpinske
Tags: #Science Fiction Romance
The Golden Couple
The Golden Couple
By Stephanie Karpinske
Copyright © 2013 Stephanie Karpinske
All rights reserved.
Published by Crazy Dream Publishing, LLC
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, things, and events are fictitious, and any similarities to real persons (live or dead), things, or events are coincidental and not intended by the author.
The author holds exclusive rights to this work and unauthorized duplication is prohibited. No part of this book is to be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author.
I gazed out the window of the van at the long stretch of road before us. Tall grasses speckled with wildflowers lined the highway. Colin, the boy I’d grown up with and the boy I loved, rested quietly in the back of the van. I sat in the seat in front of him, keeping an eye on his condition. Erik sat in the second-row seat, my sister Brittany napping on his shoulder. Erik’s dad, Jack, was up front, hunched over the wheel of the van, listening to public radio.
We’d been on the road all day and had made it to the western edge of Texas. We had another day of driving ahead of us before we would reach California. There we would gather the belongings of Erik’s twin brother, the brother he just recently learned existed but who was now deceased. DNA samples from his brother and my sister would hopefully slow the timer ticking away in Erik and me.
The timer was a piece of software designed to kill us when we turned twenty. It was placed there by GlobalLife Genetics years ago as a safeguard in case we ever escaped from them. GlobalLife could stop the timer and save us. But we refused to go back there. We had to find another way. We didn’t know why the timer was set to go off on our twentieth birthday, but it didn’t matter. The deadline was closing in fast. I had just two years left. Erik had only a few months.
“Sam?” A voice softly called out my name. I looked back to see that Colin was up. I rushed to the makeshift bed we’d set up for him on the floor of the van. The van was a large work van, like the type floral delivery companies use. Jack had a couple rows of seats added so we could use it for travel. Behind the seats were boxes of supplies and Jack’s computer equipment along with the small bed he made for Colin. It wasn’t ideal but it was the best we could do given our circumstances.
“Colin, what’s wrong? Are you in pain? I can give you more medicine.” Colin’s face and body were badly bruised and he had a deep gash in his forehead that I’d cleaned and covered in gauze.
“No, I just wanted to see you. Make sure you’re really here.” Colin’s voice was scratchy but stronger than it had been earlier in the day.
“I’m here. And I’ll stay right next to you, okay?” I couldn’t stand to look at his injuries knowing I was the cause of them. It wasn’t me directly, but the people who were after me. The horrible people working for GlobalLife Genetics.
“I thought you were gone forever, Sam.” Colin squeezed my hand with what little strength he had. “I thought I’d never see you again.”
“I know. And I wish I could have left you a message or—”
“I tried to find you. I looked everywhere. And then weeks went by and I didn’t know what to do.”
“We don’t need to talk about it now. You should rest.” I gently moved his hair away from his face to keep it off his wounds.
Colin closed his eyes. “Don’t leave me.”
“No, I’ll stay right here.”
He opened his eyes to look at me again. “No, I mean, don’t leave me like you did before.”
“I won’t. Never again.” I lay down next to him, pulling the blanket over us both.
I wasn’t sure how much Colin knew about what had happened to me the past few weeks. Being captured and held prisoner at GlobalLife Genetics. Escaping and making it down to Texas. Meeting Erik, a guy with enhanced genes just like me. Finding out about my twin sister, Brittany. Colin probably didn’t know about any of it.
When GlobalLife took Colin, I was sure they’d made up lies about me. Maybe they told him I’d run away. Maybe he’d believed the voice mail they faked with me saying I didn’t want to see him anymore. Eventually, I would tell Colin everything, but this wasn’t the time. I closed my eyes and fell asleep next to him.
“Hey, Sam.” The voice woke me up. It was Erik leaning over the seat in front of me. It was dark out now and I could barely see his face.
“My dad’s stopping to get gas and Brittany needs to use the restroom. Can you go with her?”
I rubbed my eyes, wondering how long I had slept. “Sure, just a minute.” I slid out from under the blanket, trying not to wake Colin.
“It’s a few miles ahead,” Erik said, “but I thought you might wanna get up.”
“Yeah, okay, thanks.” I crawled over the seat and sat next to Erik. Brittany had moved up front with Jack.
Erik turned his back to me and looked out into the darkness. I could feel the tension between us. With Colin back in the picture, Erik wasn’t sure how to treat me, and I wasn’t ready to address the issue. In the short time that I’d known Erik, we’d become close friends, and had started to become more than that. We shared an attraction that couldn’t be described. We’d felt it the minute we met. But I fought it, not wanting to betray Colin, even though I was sure I’d never see him again.
Now Colin was back and I had to put my feelings for Erik aside. But part of me couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pretend my feelings for Erik never existed. They were still there. And all I could do was try to suppress them.
We rode in uncomfortable silence until we finally reached the gas station. It was an old run-down station with just one gas pump. The building next to it was more like a small shack. I started to think it might be better for Brittany to relieve herself in the grassy fields rather than in whatever type of restroom facilities this place had. But it was pitch black in the fields, so that wasn’t an option.
I got out of the van and opened the passenger door to let Brittany out. She moved slowly, still in shock after killing the GlobalLife guards who had held us prisoner at her trailer. The scene had played out earlier that day; she hadn’t spoken more than a few words since. I was still amazed at what she’d done. But they had killed her mother. And I, more than anyone, knew what a need for revenge could make a person do.
Revenge had driven my actions ever since I’d discovered that GlobalLife killed my parents. The more I learned about GlobalLife, the more I hated them. At Brittany’s trailer, I’d killed Alden Worthings, a top executive at GlobalLife Genetics who had ordered my parents’ deaths. And I’d killed one of his guards. I didn’t mean to kill either one of the men. In fact, I still wasn’t sure how it had happened. But I was sure that we were all safer with them gone. At least for a little while.
“Brittany, come on.” I nudged Brittany to the shack entrance. She stared straight ahead. “Okay, just wait here.”
I went inside to find a small, leathery-skinned old man running the cash register. “Is there a bathroom somewhere?” I asked him.
“Round back. You gotta use a key. It’s unisex.” He tossed me a wooden stick that had a key hanging from the end of it. I cringed as I touched the dirty stick, trying not to imagine its history.
“Brittany, let’s go. It’s around the back.”
Brittany followed me to a rusty metal door that had the word “bathroom” spray-painted on it. I opened the door to find swarms of flies and a horrible smell. A single lightbulb lit the small room that contained a yellowed toilet and a rust-stained sink.
“I’ll wait right out here,” I said.
Brittany went inside the disgusting bathroom without even making a face. After a few minutes, I got worried. “Brittany, are you done? We need to go. Brittany?”
I tried the door, but it was locked. I still had the key, so I quickly unlocked the door. I opened it up to find Brittany hunched over the rusty sink, quietly sobbing.
“Brittany?” I went over and put my arms around her. “Brittany, talk to me. You haven’t spoken all day. Please say something.”
She continued to cry softly. I heard a knock on the door, which I’d left open. Erik poked his head in. “Hey, can I help?”
I shook my head, motioning him to leave.
“No, wait.” Brittany turned back toward Erik. “I wanna talk to him. Alone.”
I looked at Erik, then back at Brittany. “You want me to leave so you can talk to Erik?”
She nodded like a child.
“Um, okay.” I walked away, leaving Brittany and Erik standing by the bathroom door.
Jack was reading the map when I got back in the van. “Where are those two? We need to go.”
“It’s Brittany. I found her crying in the bathroom. When I tried to talk to her, she wouldn’t say anything. Then she asked to talk to Erik.”
After a few minutes, Erik came back with Brittany. She had stopped crying and looked a little better. They sat together in the seat in front of me, Brittany leaning up against Erik as she went back to sleep.
I felt bad for Brittany, but seeing her all over Erik was difficult for me to watch. I knew she liked him but I didn’t want her using her grief to win him over. It was wrong of me to think that, but I couldn’t help it. Brittany played the ditzy cheerleader role well, but deep down I knew she was smarter than that. If she wanted something, she would find a way to get it. And I knew she wanted Erik.
“Erik, what went on back there? What did she tell you?”
I thought to him.
“Oh, now you want to mind-talk? After I’ve been trying to talk to you all day?”
Erik kept his face forward, staring out the front of the van.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve been a little busy back here,”
I thought back.
“He’s slept almost the whole day, Sam. I think you could have spared a minute or two.”
I didn’t like his tone. It wasn’t the Erik I was used to.
“Okay, that’s fair. I’m sorry, Erik. I should have listened to your thoughts earlier. Now can you stop being so mad at me?
He didn’t respond, which I assumed meant he was still mad.
“What did Brittany say to you? Was she crying because she killed those men at the trailer?”
Erik’s tone was critical, like I was being insensitive toward Brittany.
“She was crying because of her mom. She feels bad because we just left her mom there on the floor of the trailer.”
“Well, what were we supposed to do? Take a dead body with us?”
“She wanted us to say something before we left. Some final words. She said her mom doesn’t have anyone. That no one will even show up at her funeral.”
I kept my mind quiet. I didn’t know enough about Brittany’s mom to know if that was true. But Erik knew her. And from his tone I sensed that Brittany’s estimate for funeral attendees wasn’t that far off.
“She asked me to say a prayer with her, asking God to take care of her mom. So we did. And I think it really helped her. I think she needed that.”
I instantly regretted thinking bad things about Brittany. I didn’t know why she chose Erik to confide in over me, but it didn’t matter. She was grieving and it wasn’t my place to decide how she did that or who she asked for help. I, of all people, should have known that because I was still grieving the loss of my parents.